(i think i made you up inside my head.) // no-bake mini apple rose cheesecakes

I shut my eyes and all the world drops dead;

I lift my lids and all is born again.

(I think I made you up inside my head.)

– Sylvia Plath

I had an epiphany of late. After years of wondering what my personal style was in the realm of baking, a question to which the answer has been perpetually elusive since style is as static as ocean tides – it changes as one’s sensibility heightens throughout the years and decades – I have come closer to a set image than ever before. Rose petals, symmetry, and a modern simplicity. That is my answer, for now at least. Perhaps it’ll morph again when I equip my mental Pastry Book of Knowledge with new skills picked up in the bustling kitchens of the Parisian Le Cordon Bleu, but if my Instagram feed is filled with images which aesthetics are nothing but, I won’t cringe in the least.

I couldn’t help but not make these petit edible roses when I chanced upon apples of the deepest shade of ruby at the local supermarket. (Tip: the redder the apples, the deeper the pink the roses will be.) What better way to show them off than placing them on a pedestal of ivory cheesecake batter and encasing them in a transparent jelly layer. I actually wanted the roses to be completely submerged in the jelly but they were too tall for the mould. It’s no disaster, but if you prefer, you can make shorter roses and/or stretch the cheesecake component out to 8 portions instead of 6 to take away some height from the bottom.

No Bake Mini Apple Rose Cheesecakes

makes 6 to 8 servings

For the crust:

100 grams graham biscuits, crushed finely in a food processor (pulverize them, literally)

50 grams unsalted butter, melted

1 to 2 tablespoons cream

For the cheesecake filling:

100 grams cream cheese

30 grams sugar

100 grams plain yoghurt

100 ml heavy cream

1/2 tablespoon lemon juice

3.5 grams gelatin leaves

For the apple roses:

1 large red apple

1 tablespoon lemon juice

For the jelly topping:

2 gelatin leaves

100 ml water

25 grams sugar

Make the crust: Mix the biscuit crumbs and melted butter together. Add between 1 to 2 tablespoons of cream if the mixture is looking a little dry. Form six to eight circles that are 6 cm in diameter and 4.5 cm in height using clear cake strips and place them on a silicon baking sheet. Press the crumbs firmly into the bottom of each circle. Refrigerate while you make the batter.

Make the cheesecake batter: Soak the gelatin leaves in water in a microwave-safe bowl until softened. Set aside.

Combine the cream cheese and sugar in a food processor and blend until the mixture is smooth. Add the yogurt and blend until incorporated. Add the heavy cream and blend until smooth. Blend in the lemon juice. Drain the excess water and microwave the softened gelatin leaves for about 10 seconds until melted, blend into the cream cheese mixture. Pour batter over the crusts. Refrigerate until firm.

Make the apple roses: Halve an apple on either side of the core and slice again to achieve four quarters. Slice thinly with mandolin into a bowl of water mixed with lemon juice to stop the apple slices from browning. Repeat with the remaining apples. Retrieve the apple slices from the bowl of lemon water and arrange them on a large plate such that they don’t overlap too much. Microwave for about 3 minutes or until the apples have softened and are now pliable.

Take about 14 apple slices and arrange them in a straight line, with their ends overlapping. Roll up the apple slices tightly to form a rose. Place a rose on the center of each cheesecake.

Make the jelly topping: Soften the gelatin leaves in water. Stir together the water and sugar in a bowl and microwave until the mixture is hot and the sugar has dissolved. Squeeze out the excess water from the softened gelatin leaves and stir them into the water-sugar mixture until dissolved. Set aside the mixture to cool for a bit before pouring it on top of the cheesecakes and around the roses. Refrigerate the cakes overnight to allow the jelly topping to set completely.

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